UC Berkeley Faculty Association concerned over service center move

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The UC Berkeley Faculty Association released a statement Monday to campus administrators expressing concerns about the proposed off-campus Campus Shared Services Center.

The move to the new center —  part of the controversial Operational Excellence plan to streamline campus administration and services — was recently postponed by four months due to a number of concerns over logistics. The faculty association is now calling for a faculty and staff committee that will propose suggestions to the Operational Excellence initiative.

The association lists their concerns under four headings — financing, monitoring, decision-making and moving off-campus. According to the statement, “The CSS design and implementation appears too hasty and to lack the necessary analysis of costs, benefits and impacts.”
Included among the list are concerns about a lack of announcements regarding recharge fees, unit budget reductions, a feedback system and the process of selecting which campus staff will be relocated to the center.

The Graduate Assembly’s Operational Excellence Student Communications Coordinator and graduate student in psychology Matt Goren acknowledged that the shared services team has not communicated well enough, but said he believes that in most cases there is a plan in place to address the problems the association discussed.
“I think they have the right mindset,” Goren said. “(But) they don’t know everything that is going on. Now, why don’t they know? … Maybe because the information isn’t out there.”

For example, regarding the association’s concerns about the lack of a budget released for the new center, Goren said there is a budget that was released in February but has not been made available to the public.

He also said he feels the public is not taking advantage of the feedback systems that Operational Excellence has in place, like their open houses, but recognized the fact that it may be because they are not well-advertised.

In response to the concerns about the transition over to the center, Goren said he knows of at least two groups of people that are going to be helping departments transition, especially with the first group of people moving into the center. He speculated that the writers of the association statement are not part of that cohort and therefore do not know of the intended assistance.

In their statement, the association also called for an “ad hoc committee of faculty and staff to review and respond to the CSS initiative … (and) propose design modifications, timeline adjustments, and other actions.”

According to Richard Walker, an association board member and former vice chair, this committee will ensure proper review and assessment by “a group with a fresh set of eyes.”
Kevin Padian, who is also on the association board and one of the writers of the statement, said the association does not believe the entire project is wrong but rather that the administration and Operational Excellence representatives have not consulted the correct people. Padian also said he has noticed that staff members are reluctant to raise questions and suggestions.

“Frankly, they are afraid to speak out of fear for losing their job,” Padian said. “And this is not the atmosphere that you have to have if you want to solve problems.”

However, Thera Kalmijn, executive director of Campus Shared Services Implementation, said in an email that the process has made a point of involving staff opinion.

“The Campus Shared Services (CSS) implementation team has worked with the campus community over the past 16-17 months to design a shared services organization … including more than 15 work groups made up of campus staff,” Kalmijn said in the email.

Despite their concerns, Padian said the association’s efforts are meant to be helpful in the ongoing process.

“We are fine with change,” Padian said. “We just don’t like stupid change. We want change that works.”